Bicycle Makes Police Officer a Big Wheel on His Ohio Beat

Associated Press

The Columbus Police Department has its fleet of cruisers, motorcycles and mounted patrol officers.

Then there's Officer Thomas R. Stroud, the only bicycle officer on the force.

"I can go places that if I was walking I couldn't cover and a cruiser couldn't cover," he said. "You can go through alleys and parking lots taking shortcuts. You can do things on a bike that you couldn't do on another vehicle."

Stroud, 49, took up the bike literally by accident. His doctor suggested bike riding as therapy after Stroud tore a ligament in his knee. His supervisors thought the idea had merit, so Stroud appropriated a bike from the unclaimed property room and has been biking ever since. He rides about 20 miles a day, covering a 12-square-block area of downtown.

"People want to know if this is a new horse or if the city's put me on a budget," Stroud said. "I've had it up to 48 m.p.h."

His beat had been covered by foot.

"It's so large, it's hard to get around to all of it," said Stroud's supervisor, Sgt. Marvin E. Muncie. "It has a high incidence of prostitution and he couldn't catch up to them. Because of the mere size of the district, we thought it was a good idea."

The bike patrol has paid off in arrests and is a deterrent. "Ninety percent of police work is being visible and being in uniform," Stroud said.

"If you have visibility and you're in uniform, the work's done. It's a deterrent. And knowing where to be and when.

"You're more effective. It doesn't make you a better officer, but you can do more in a given amount of time. If there's a problem at the bus station and I'm at Fifth and Main, I can be there in 20 seconds."

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